After dropping some $40 million of his own money on the Republican primaries—and making a very big deal about it—Donald Trump has realized he is going to need other people’s money if he’s going to be elected president. To help him get it, he’s named as national finance chairman his business associate Steven Mnuchin, a hedge fund manager with a history of donating to Democrats and exploiting the housing crisis for his own gain.
Currently the chairman and CEO of Dune Capital Management LP (which has lent to Trump on development deals, including Trump Tower in Chicago), Mnuchin has given about $71,000 to Democrats since 1998, according to Reuters, and $37,000 to Republicans. “I’m not a traditional fund-raiser—I think that was part of the appeal I had for Donald,” Mnuchin told the New York Times on Monday. “I have given to Democrats in the past. I’ve always believed in supporting the best candidate at the time.”
Mnuchin anticipates raising more than $1 billion for the general election. The Trump campaign will sign a joint fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee “in the very near future,” Mnuchin said. The campaign “will work closely with the party,” he said last week. (Trump has only raised about $12 million from donors so far.)
The Mnuchin family holds some stature among Manhattan’s banking elite: Steven’s father Robert worked for Goldman Sachs for 30 years; Steven himself made partner after 17 years at Goldman, before leaving in 2002. In 2004, he started Dune Capital with two other ex-Goldman executives, which in 2009 bought failed housing lender IndyMac out of bankruptcy from the FDIC, renamed it, and made hundreds of millions of dollars off questionable foreclosures. He’s also dabbled in the film industry, the Times reports, helping produce American Sniper and Mad Max: Fury Road.
According to Bloomberg, Mnuchin started a hedge fund in 2003 with $1 billion from George Soros, the New York financier and fixture of conservative Facebook conspiracy memes who has already dropped $13 million supporting Democrats this election cycle. Back in August, Trump said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that hedge fund managers were “getting away with murder.”
“These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky,” he said. “They are energetic. They are very smart. But a lot of them—they are paper-pushers. They make a fortune. They pay no tax. It’s ridiculous.” During one debate, Trump sneered that Ted Cruz was in Goldman’s pocket. “I know the guys at Goldman Sachs,” he said. “They have total, total control over him. Just like they have total control over Hillary Clinton.” He might not have been wrong: Cruz went to great lengths to obscure a loan from Goldman that helped him get elected to the Senate.
“I wouldn’t in any way say I distanced myself from Wall Street,” Mnuchin told the Times. “I have very good friends on Wall Street.” That should come in handy.